Documents made public Tuesday provide new insight into the breadth of President Donald Trump’s effort to extract dirt from Ukraine on the Bidens and show Rudy Giuliani was actively soliciting information on Burisma and Joe Biden’s son Hunter even before the interactions with newly elected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that led to Trump’s impeachment. The new material released by House Democrats shows Trump’s team offering up what appears to be another quid pro quo to the previous regime in Ukraine, as well as admitting to surveilling the U.S. ambassador in Ukraine.
The Trump administration, and Republicans generally, has for months been disingenuously condemning the impeachment inquiry as incomplete because of a lack of witnesses and documentation, while simultaneously refusing to allow administration witnesses to testify and stonewalling document requests. The latest release shows how little we actually know as a result and how bad it all is already, as the messages appear to show Trump’s team, led by Giuliani and his associate Lev Parnas, attempting to procure damaging information on Burisma from Ukraine’s top prosecutor, Yuriy Lutsenko, as early as March. In return, Lutsenko was demanding the removal of the American ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, who had been critical of the regime’s anemic anti-corruption efforts.
“It’s just that if you don’t make a decision about Madam—you are bringing into question all my allegations. Including about B,” Lutsenko wrote to Parnas in a WhatsApp message in March 2019, in apparent references to Yovanovitch and Biden. Lutsenko’s boss and close political ally, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, was running for reelection against Zelensky at the time. In one back-and-forth, Lutsenko informs Parnas, who is under federal indictment for campaign finance violations, he has copies of payments Burisma made to an investment firm co-founded by Hunter Biden. Lutsenko said he had the dirt! He was just waiting on Trump to do his part.
But there’s more. “Among the revelations in the documents released Tuesday a message from Giuliani to Parnas saying he had involved a person he called ‘no 1’—possibly Trump himself—in an effort to lift a U.S. visa ban on a former Ukrainian prosecutor who was planning to come to the United States to make claims about Biden,” the Washington Post reports. The Trump team was actively orchestrating a political hit on his political rival when Zelensky handily beat the incumbent, prompting Trump’s team to switch focus to the new, incoming regime.
“The materials [-] include a letter Giuliani wrote to Ukraine’s then-president-elect, Volodymyr Zelensky, requesting a May 14 meeting with the new leader in Giuliani’s ‘capacity as personal counsel to President Trump and with his knowledge and consent,’ ” the Post reports. “In handwritten notes on a piece of stationery from the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Vienna, Parnas wrote, ‘get Zalenksy [sic] to Annouce [sic] that the Biden case will be Investigated.’ ” Yovanovitch was removed from her post in late April at Giuliani’s urging. Lutsenko later announced, however, his office had found no evidence of wrongdoing by the Bidens, as Giuliani and Parnas began making overtures to President-elect Zelensky.
Also in the documents were texts from a previously unknown character in the Ukraine drama, Robert Hyde, a 40-year-old Trump supporter and Republican congressional candidate in Connecticut. Hyde messaged Parnas that the Ambassador Yovanovitch was under physical and electronic surveillance in Ukraine. “She’s talked to three people. Her phone is off. Computer is off,” he wrote in one message to Parnas. “They will let me know when she’s on the move,” he said in another.